The answer is always: “It depends” on:
– The experience and skill level of the lifter
– The exercise
– The goals
– Proximity to competition/conclusion of programme etc..
For a beginner, an example would be 3 sets of 12, starting light and gradually increasing the weight every session. This is an example of linear periodisation, where the goal is to increase the weight lifted in each session or week.
I like this number of reps for beginners (12-15), as it allows a large enough number of reps to provide technique practice, without doing too much where fatigue could negatively impact movement quality.
But what if you’re someone who’s been doing the same sets and reps for a while and are struggling to see improvements?
Daily Undulating Periodisation (DUP) sounds all fancy and technical, but all it really means is:
– Training the same exercise variation multiple times per week.
– The intensity changes from one session to the next e.g. “endurance” “hypertrophy” and “strength” days.
– It’s usually combined with a linear approach, where you’re still looking to increase the weight every week, in comparison to the same session from the previous week.
Here’s a photo of the first three weeks of my hip thrust programme, to show an example of DUP:
Week 1, Day 1 is a “light” endurance day (e.g.2×20 at 50kg), followed by a moderate 3×15 (e.g. 60kg) on day 2, and then a relatively heavy 3×10 (e.g.70kg) on day 3.
At week 2, day 1, an example would be to increase weight from the previous week, to say 60kg and aim for 2×20 again. and so on and so on..
The hip thrust is an example of an exercise suited to higher repetitions and frequency, unlike say deadlifts which put the body under a lot more physical demand.
One of the key benefits of DUP, is that it allows a wide variety of intensities to be used on a frequent basis. It allows the lifter to build/maintain a good base of muscle mass and endurance, whilst also working on strength.
It’s also great for breaking through plateaus and helping with recovery, e.g. if you’ve been stuck for a while doing 5×5 or 3×10 every session.